Sadu Sadu Sad!

“Sadu Sadu Sadu Sad!” came the shout.

“Sadu Sadu Sadu Sad!” came the reply.

One group of pilgrims would yell to another, “Sadu Sadu Sad!”

Down the mountain, hundreds of yards, came the distant but clear reply, “Sadu Sadu Sad!”

At 11:30 pm on new years eve we began our ascent of Adam;s Peak, one of the holiest sites on the Island for Buddhists and Christians. At the very peak is a small Buddhist shrine, surrounding a curious rock formation, said by Buddhists to be the footprint of Buddha, or by Christians to be of St. Thomas Aquinas.

At midnight we spotted a tea shop near the base of the mountain, had cups of hot tea to steel us for the chilly climb ahead, and cheered the new years with strangers, and the vendor.

As our van winded its way through bumpy mountain roads, in Sri Lanka’s rumpled heart, we caught glimpses of stunning views in the deep dark. Nearly four hours into our journey, turning a corner, we saw Adam’s peak for the first time. The trail of maybe 5000 steps that leads it’s way to the Mountain’s peak, is lit brightly against the night sky and looks much like the tip of an ant trail winding its way across your apartment wall.

Seven kilometers later and a couple thousand feet difference in elevation, we completed our trek. At the base, the climate is warm and temperate, and remains that way until near the very top, where you feel warm (mostly from your own expenditure of energy climbing). But at the very top, after your heart rate slows, the windchill makes itself known. If you’re like me, and hiked in a bathing suit, you soon realize how dumb of an idea that was. With three and a half hours to sunrise, we huddled together at the top for warmth.

Sheela and I decided to go a third of the way down the mountain, including the most difficult final stages to grab a bottle of water and a cup of tea from one the last, highest up the mountain refreshment station.

We returned with half and hour to spare before the sunrise. Our legs were certainly numb. When the sunrises, Adam’s peak’s shadow often forms a a second faux peak, which quickly moves across the horizon as the sun continues its ascent. Unfortunately, we did not see the faux peak, but the view was stunning, and you can see, I think, all the way to near the coast of the Island, including all of the central mountainous zones.

After staying at the top for the better time of an hour after daybreak, we made our way back down. The innumerable stairs are not pleasant for the knees, so we ran down. I recommend climbing during the daytime. It’s warmer. There are less people, and you’ll get great views both on the way up and way down.